AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man who was scheduled to sing the national anthem before a College World Series game had his performance canceled after he gave what the NCAA called “an offensive gesture,” after an anthem performance before a Women’s College World Series game.
Zac Collier, a Texas A&M University graduate, spoke with ESPN about what happened. After he was finished singing the national anthem before a game at the WCWS between Texas and Oklahoma State on June 6, he turned to the crowd and gave the “Horns Down” gesture.
ESPN’s reported CWS organizers and NCAA officials contacted Collier three hours afterward, and they said his performance, scheduled for Game 9 of the CWS on June 21, was no longer happening. Collier posted screenshots of emails with officials on Facebook.
“I regret nothing,” his post said.
An NCAA official confirmed to KXAN on Tuesday that Collier will no longer perform the anthem before the game and provided this statement:
The performance of the national anthem during NCAA championship events is a solemn moment for reflection and mutual respect for all championship participants and fans in attendance. Following his national anthem performance during the Women’s College World Series – during which the performer inappropriately supported one participating team, taunted the other team, and disrupted participating student-athletes and coaches by attempting to interact with them – he was asked not to perform during the Men’s College World Series.NCAA spokesperson
Collier told ESPN he understands why people would be upset with what he did, but calling the “Horns Down” gesture offensive and saying he mocked the Longhorns is “ridiculous.”
“I believe it’s part of the rivalry,” he said to ESPN. “It’s part of college sports. I don’t believe the Horns Down is any more offensive than a Gig ‘Em or a Hook ‘Em or a Wreck ‘Em.”
The gesture, which is just Texas’ long-time “Horns Up” hand signal pointed toward the ground, has been a topic of discussion with Big 12 Conference football referees since 2018. The conference started penalizing players for doing it during in-game celebrations when the Longhorns were playing, and last season, the conference’s officiating head said at Big 12 media days, “it’s probably going to be a foul.”
“If you do a ‘Horns Down’ to a Texas player as an opponent, that’s probably going to be a foul,” Greg Burks said to reporters. He mentioned that if players did the gesture toward the crowd it “probably” wouldn’t result in a penalty, but doing it toward a player would warrant a flag, he said.
Collier said he’s disappointed he won’t get to sing the anthem in Omaha. He has a Youtube page featuring his performances at various events, ranging from Dallas Wings and Texas Rangers games to events at his alma mater.
“I’m an Aggie; Texas was playing,” Collier told ESPN. “I was going to give them a ‘Go Pokes’ and then a Horns Down after the anthem. And that’s exactly what I did.”
Both Texas and Texas A&M qualified for the CWS and are in the same bracket, so there’s a good chance the rivals will meet in Omaha.